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Governor clarifies comments on COVID-19 testing in schools

Jennifer Lewke
Created: August 04, 2020 05:25 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — After four days of confusion over whether school districts need to have a plan in place to test teachers and students preemptively for COVID-19, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo has clarified remarks made by the governor during his daily briefings.

And it appears the plans most districts submitted still meet the standards.  

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On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, during his daily COVID-19 briefings, Gov. Cuomo has urged parents to ask their school districts for detailed information on testing procedures.

On Monday, Gov. Cuomo told parents they should ask, “How are you going to test? How many tests are you going to take? Are you sure you have them lined up, are you sure those are enough tests, is it a representative sample? How long is it going to take to turn around the tests?”

Those remarks came as a surprise to Upstate New York superintendents who point to guidelines sent out by NYSED that read, “It is strongly recommended that schools comply with CDC guidance and not conduct COVID-19 testing or require testing or antibody testing of students and staff members.”

Superintendents across the area tell News10NBC they have plans in place to screen employees and students returning for in-person instruction daily and require isolation and testing of anyone showing symptoms but there were no plans to preemptively test anyone before the start of school. 

In a statement, Greece Superintendent Kathleen Graupman, who also heads up the Monroe County Association of Superintendents said, “Such testing requires public health oversight, medical decision making and specifically trained staff. School nurses do not perform tests to confirm or rule out conditions but triage students to identify illness. School nurses will work closely with primary care physicians and the Monroe County Department of Public Health in a supportive role.”

While the New York City School District has plans to test all teachers before they return to work and then once per month during the school year, Graupman says some schools there have testing on-site through their public health departments and that is not the case locally.

In a statement, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo told News10NBC, “The Department of Health guidance serves as the mandatory baseline of health and safety protocols for school districts to follow and testing is part of a continuum of mitigation efforts that includes mandatory daily temperature checks and other additional screening, testing for symptomatic individuals or exposures and contact tracing in the event of a positive case.  Districts must have a plan in place for testing related to symptomatic or exposed individuals, whether in school or through the local health department, that includes timely delivery of results and any ensuing testing of additional individuals. Additionally, any positive cases must be tracked through established contact tracing protocols and in coordination with the local health department. DOH guidance allows districts to implement additional testing protocols.” 


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